Thursday, December 20, 2007

Idaho Environmental Summit - 2007 Postscript

I believe everyone who attended would agree that the 2007 Idaho Environmental Summit in Boise December 11-13, was a great success, with excellent Keynote speakers, breakout knowledge sessions on a range of important topics, and a lot of personal networking opportunities with old and new friends and associates. However, one common question some people asked -- will a documented record of all the topic presentations be made available after the Summit is over? The answer was that even though this was a good idea it was not planned or budgeted for!

At a conference organizers meeting on the last evening December 13, I offered to try to explore some possible ways this might be done using available social networking tools. Below I explain how, in the past several days, I have initiated an experimental network using the popular Ning Social Network platform to start this process.

Also I will note that during the Summit I was asked to try to capture a photographic record of as many of the Summit activities as I could. I am now producing photo albums of the events that happened during the 3 days. The only outside photo I took in three days happened during the Opening Flag Ceremonies with Tribal drummers, when I happened to look out and saw an amazing rainbow colored Solar halo and three sundogs, on both sides and the top. That picture has been placed to the right and you can click on it to make it much larger. Additional photographs of the Summit are systematically being placed on the new Idaho Environmental Network I created. (More detail below)

My partner, Katy Flanagan, helped the Summit produce a "slide show" that was shown on two screens in the main meeting room all three days except during Keynote presentations. We used nature images from Idaho that we have photographed over the years and interspersed Summit Sponsor credit slides throughout the program. We also had an exhibit booth for Mountain Visions where we showed Google Earth projects and other examples of our web site work including high definition panoramas and video, interactive web site production and social network efforts on the Internet.

In my last (most recent) post on December 10, 2007 I listed the Fifteen Idaho Environmental topics that were presented at the 2007 Summit. These were similar to the topics presented at the 2006 Summit that I wrote about in November and December 2006. (See link below)

As I noted in the "Postscript" blog entry on December 12, 2006, there was also some talk among organizers and participants last year about creating a public record of all of the presentations given and posting it on the Summit web site. Possibly because of time involvement and possible costs this was never done last year and for the same reasons this documentation was not planned for this year either. At this time, for example, I cannot even find any web site information about the 2006 Idaho Environmental Summit. Why? I hope the 2007 web site remains available as long as there is interest in these issues. Possibly the 2006 web site can be found and uploaded again for the public record.

Photo sharing Model: As I needed an openly available web site where people could access the conference photographs I had taken, I decided to use the (free) networking structure that I had used before for the Idaho Outdoor Photography and Idaho Common Adventure Network projects. This allows visitors to the web site not only to look at the photos (also in a slide show format) but it also allows them to copy and send the photos or slide shows to others they feel might be interested. People who join the new network can also submit photos of their own and these can be open to other people who visit the web site project. (The image to the right is Richard Louv, Keynote speaker and author of "Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder")

Naturally, this same networking structure will also allow people who join the network to submit links to conference presentations, if they already exist on a web site, or to upload Word, PDF or PowerPoint presentation files, if they are available. It was my understanding that many of these presentations were installed on the personal laptop computers used at the conference and might remain available to the conference organizers or the "Track Managers." For those presentations that are not still available, hopefully the presenters themselves, or someone who knows them, can provide links or files for a better public record of the important knowledge represented at the 2007 Idaho Environmental Summit. Possibly, similar presentation records from the 2006 Summit can also be located. Obviously, this "knowledge base" can be valuable to people who could not attend either of the two annual Summit meetings. And, it will be valuable in the future as more knowledge is accumulated and presented at similar conferences, meetings and seminars.

I have a good start on a new Idaho Environmental Network via that I hope has some potential to create a "web of data" about the topics presented at these Summit meetings. I also hope to initiate some Idaho discussions about GeoWeb, SemanticWeb, OpenSourceWeb and SocialWeb concepts via this project that I have been exploring on this Blog.

I believe most of the approximately 300 + people who attended the Summit will be interested in the hundreds of photographs that will be available, as any person may be visible in one or more of the scenes. If they come and look at, and share, the photographs, they may also become interested in helping locate publicly available sources for some or all of the presentations given and perhaps add additional Idaho Environmental knowledge that is available from the past and in the future.

Please visit the experimental Idaho Environmental Network to see photographs and more information and details about how this project might work. And please "join" the network if you are interested in being involved in discussing these issues further. If there are other similar discussion groups I hope we can share their links with others as well.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Idaho Environmental Summit - 2007

In 2006, on November 29, and December 12, I posted information about the first annual Idaho Environmental Summit, including information about our (Mountain Visions) participation and suggestions for future networking. We are involved in the Summit again this year and will continue to encourage more in depth internetworking on the Idaho topics being discussed. I will write more later about my experiences at the conference this year.

December 11-13, 2007 are the dates for "The second annual Idaho Environmental Summit with more than thirty partner organizations, offers seven keynote events and over 70 breakout sessions featuring sensational nationally recognized speakers." The IES Keynote Speakers web page provides details about these speakers including Richard Louv, Keith Allred, Charles Wilkinson, D.J. Eagle Bear Vanas , Deborah Williams, and Brent Stinnet.

"Breakout sessions will feature over one hundred presenters providing educational and networking opportunities and current research for all the people and organizations of Idaho."

Informative sessions on subject areas include:
Air Quality
Cleanup and Remediation
Climate Change
Environmental Education
Faith and Environment
Fire and Fire Management
Fish and Wildlife
Land Use
Natural Resource Information
Tribal Topics
Water Resources Research

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Network Where No One is in Charge

I intended this post to be related to the previous post "Public vs. Private Benefit." The most glaring example of a "Public Benefit" process in modern times is the tremendous cooperative and sharing attitude of people who developed the modern Internet. This same open source process is growing stronger via social networking tools and provides an obvious and logical alternative to the "Private Benefit" organizations that have controlled the environmental and social justice economies of many cultures worldwide.

Today, John Markoff wrote an interesting article about this topic in the Business Section of the New York Times titled: "The Team That Put the Net in Orbit." He describes the cooperative spirit of the open source software networking movement in the 1980s that lead to the Internet as we know it today.

The article credits Al Gore, then a U.S. Senator, "with introducing legislation in 1988 to finance what he originally called a "national data highway.... Ultimately, in 1991, his bill to create a National Research and Education Network did pass. Funded by the National Science Foundation, it was instrumental in upgrading the speed of the academic and scientific network backbone leading up to the commercialized Internet." Markoff quotes Lawrence H. Landweber, one of the pioneers of "internetworking" who said of Al Gore, "He is a hero in this field."

Markoff notes that "Some 220 of the original Internet pioneers met here at the end of November to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the NSFnet, the scientific data network that was originally constructed to tie together the nation’s five supercomputer centers and that would ultimately explode into today’s Internet. By the time the academic network was shut down in 1996, it connected 6.6 million host computers and extended to 93 countries."

"The story of the network and its impact on the world is a case study in the role of serendipity in technology design and in the power of a deftly managed public-private partnership."

Markoff also states in the article that "According to a wide range of conference participants, NSFnet ultimately succeeded because of both the hacker culture of engineers that built the system and the very nature of the network they were creating; it fostered intellectual collaboration in a way not previously possible.

“The model of a network where no one is in charge is a model that can scale,” said Douglas E. Van Houweling, the chairman of the Merit Network when the NSFnet backbone was constructed."

A Wikipedia page notes that open source software "is often developed in a public, collaborative manner. Open-source software is the most prominent example of open source development and often compared to user generated content."

In previous posts here I have tried to connect social networking concepts that promote user generated content with the concept of Common Adventure projects. The open source networking where "no one is in charge" fits well with my experiences and thoughts. The increasing use and value of the Geo Web and the Semantic Web also fit into what I see in the future. I will continue to try to clarify these ideas in future posts.

Public-Benefit vs. Private-Benefit

On December 8, David Korten, in wrote an article titled, "Only One Reason to Grant a Corporate Charter." He explores the differences between the commonly practiced Private-Benefit Corporation and a logical, more environmentally and socially sensitive alternative, the Public-Benefit Corporation.

"The private-benefit corporation is an institution granted a legally protected right—some would claim obligation—to pursue a narrow private interest without regard to broader social and environmental consequences. If it were a real person, it would fit the clinical profile of a sociopath." Korten also states that this type of institutionalized corporation design benefits "wealthy investors far removed from the social and environmental consequences. That design has ever since proven highly effective in advancing the private interests of the world’s wealthiest people at enormous cost to the rest."

Explaining the public-benefit alternative, Korten states that "The only legitimate reason for a government to issue a corporate charter giving a group of private investors a legally protected right to aggregate and concentrate virtually unlimited economic power under unified management is to serve a well-defined public purpose under strict rules of public accountability. This defines a public-benefit corporation, which can be chartered as either for-profit or not-for-profit.

Please read the Korten article for a more detailed explanation.

Given the wide range of environmental and social justice problems all nations in the world are experiencing, it seems logical to put a huge and immediate individual and societal public effort into a restructuring of our understanding of long range effects that are caused by economic decisions we are making today. Fortunately, in my opinion, the Internet is providing social networking opportunities that "can" make a difference in this effort. We should use these tools to insist that Public-Benefit Corporations are supported by our friends, neighbors and elected leaders, and that Private-Benefit Corporations adopt this different and more responsible design for the good of all citizens of the world.